Christmas at Dante, Virginia – 1991

IT BEGAN LIKE THIS IN 1947…

The article above is from the Dec. 14, 1947 edition of the Kingsport Times-News,

The photo above was taken during the 1949 Christmas celebration at the old Clinchfield Inn at Dante.

The article above is from the November 26, 1950 edition of the Bristol Herald-Courier.

DANTE’S 1991 CHRISTMAS TREE…

DECORATING THE TREE [From the Clinch Valley Times, Thursday December 12, 1991] A large crowd attended a Christmas Tree decorating party in Dante on Friday night. Clinchfield Coal put up the tree itself, but this year, citizens of the community were invited to bring ornaments and help decorate. Some of those who participated are shown. They were joined later by others, while spectators watched from the sidelines. During the evening, Clinchfield president Walter Crickmer presented $1,000 from Clinchfield to the Dante Volunteer Fire Department. Free refreshments were served to all who attended the festive event.

SPECIAL ORNAMENT — Mrs. Joyce Wagner, St. Paul, placed a special ornament in memory of her father, Ora Alonzo Phillips, on the Dante Community Christmas Tree during Friday’s decorating party. Mrs. Wagner said that her father helped put up the very first Community Christmas Tree in Dante many years ago.


FROM THE CLINCH VALLEY TIMES’ ARCHIVES — Thursday, December 19, 1991

AN OLD TRADITION — Santa Claus paid his traditional visit to Dante on Saturday morning; distributed treats organized by his helpers Elaine Steele and Clinchfield Coal Corp.; and talked to the youngsters. As usual, several thousand people were on hand for the special event.

WAITING FOR TREATS [Above] — This photo shows just a few of the several thousand people who were in Dante Saturday morning for the community’s traditional visit from Santa Claus.

AN EXCITING DAY [Above] — Little Kaitlin Clay, the 14-month-old daughter of Karen and Danny Clay, Castlewood, visited Santa Claus in Dante on Saturday morning with her aunt, Margaret Steffey, Dante.

TIMES CHANGE, COMMUNITIES CHANGE, PEOPLE ENTER AND EXIT OUR LIVES

ONE THING REMAINS CONSTANT — CHRISTMAS

BE THANKFUL FOR WHO AND WHAT YOU HAVE

LIFE IS A GIFT – ALL OF IT

5 thoughts on “Christmas at Dante, Virginia – 1991

    1. I agree, and that is why we published a multi-part series of articles about the Arty Lee School that appeared in the Clinch Valley Times. I hope you will read those articles if you have not already done so. On the Clinch Valley Times’ Facebook page, I have also included some of the CVT’s social news columns from the past featuring residents of Sawmill Hollow.

    2. Stop trying to make a big deal out of something that’s not. The coal company didn’t tell everyone but black people to show up. There were black people there, nobody was excluded. Black people are a very small part of the population that just happened to not be in the pictures. I’m sure the CVT didn’t have a white only picture policy. Also, there have been articles dedicated to Arty Lee School.

  1. Jerry I wanted to say thank you for continuing to share our history and more recent our progress in redevelopment.
    This article was most touching when I learned after sharing with my aunt, the first photograph of the 1991 Christmas Tree just to the right of the ladder is my Mom Virginia (Jenny) Fields Gullett, my aunt Norma Fields Lee with her foot resting on the bottom of the ladder and my cousin Kayla Austin Kiser. Having lost Mom in 2005 and Kayla in 2012 it was a nothing short of Christmas Magic seeing them participate in decorating the tree, Moms smile looking up the tree expressing the excitement of a child and comfort for my aunt Norm reflecting on a beautiful memory being with them both was certainly the best Christmas gift this year by far.
    They were born and spent their entire lives in Dante and shared the stories of childhood in the small community and how they never seen other nationalities and color any differently then themselves anymore then seeing they were poor because everyone lived, had and were treated the same. Definitely a simpler time
    My maternal grandfather Homer Fields born 1928 in Dante and where he spent his 80 years on earth. He was one of 17 siblings who attended Clinchfields traditional Treat Bag from Santa and received only a couple pieces of hard candy, a few nuts and was the only gift they received for Christmas which gave us a better understanding of
    “Hard Candy Christmas”
    Many times I’ve heard people mention our area being the heart of racism when actually it was one of the most diverse having had 18 documented nationalities represented in the community of Dante where they all worked, played and lived so closely in harmony side by side.
    Progress update… Arty Lee Campground is soon to open, restoration of the Dante Depot excepting bids and ATV/Hiking and Biking Trails soon to fallows.
    Thanks Again Sir
    Jason L. Gullett
    21 Rocky Hollow
    Dante VA 24237
    justjason76@yahoo.com

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